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Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, October 2010

On this disc Dacapo present love songs by three important composers, representing three consecutive periods of the 19th century.

Chronological order of the composers would had been even more enlightening but as it is we get a fair picture of the best of Danish song writing from the period before Carl Nielsen.

Heise’s Tannhäuser settings—the lyrics by the highly accomplished Holger Drachmann—are attractive. I skoven er der så stille (The forest is so silent), the fifth, is a true gem, serene and beautiful—just as the title says—but the various songs from some of Heise’s other collections are even more charming in their Schumannesque dress. Christian Winther’s Vårsang I host (Spring Song in Autumn) is fresh but agitated. Til en veninde (To a lady friend) is lyric and simple. The through-composed Skønne fru Beatriz (The Lovely Lady Beatriz) is expressive and Skovensomhed (Forest Solitude) is calm and beautiful, sung with fine legato.

Weyse, born in Germany but a Danish citizen from the age of fifteen, is best remembered for his symphonies. He was greatly admired by Mozart’s widow Constanze, who lived in Copenhagen for a number of years. Most of the songs represented here are from various Singspiele and plays. They are quite charming, simple, mostly strophic songs. Born four years after Beethoven he was steeped in the Classicism of Haydn and Mozart.

Lange-Müller was probably the most accomplished song-writer in his time and is highly regarded in Denmark. Most of his creations are rather melancholy but they are harmonically thrilling and there are touches of impressionism. Tre sange ved havet (Three Songs by the Sea) possibly represent Lange-Müller at his best. They strike an ideal balance between the voice and the expressive piano accompaniments.

Mathias Hedegaard has a light lyric tenor, very agreeable and he makes the most of these songs...he is well suited to the music and he obviously loves the music. He is well assisted by Tove Lønskov and the recording is out of Dacapo’s top drawer. Danish readers probably don’t need any encouragement to rush to the nearest record store—if there is one—and buy this issue. This should be an enticing eye (or rather ear) opener for other readers as well.

Henry Fogel
Fanfare, September 2010

Hedegaard is a caring, intelligent musician who knows how to inflect a phrase, how to “sell” a song, and who clearly loves this repertoire. These three composers covered, between them, the 19th and early 20th centuries—writing delightful ballads and romantic songs with real melodic inspiration. Heise’s cycle of six songs, Farlige drømme (“Perilous Dreams”), is one highlight of this disc. The cycle covers a wide range of feelings and musical effects, from gentle erotic lyricism to troubled dark undercurrents of emotion (“The Forest is So Silent”).

The jaunty exuberance of Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse’s Man siger, hjertet har ej rum is a case of music and text matching perfectly:

They say the heart cannot contain

Two true loves in one season.

But Cupid he knows otherwise

And thusly does he reason:

That many may sigh for one full sore,

So surely one may sigh for more?

A logic compelling and telling.

While one might wish to be hearing these songs sung by Aksel Schiøtz or Jüssi Björling, and while the thinness of Hedegaard’s tone may wear from time to time, he sings these with such style and conviction, and is accompanied by a pianist who also brings forth a strong musical personality, that the result is an extremely enjoyable disc that will bring much pleasure on the first hearing and the 10th. Dacapo provides very informative notes, and side-by-side texts and translations. The recorded sound is so natural as to be a non-factor.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2010

Danish love songs through the 19th century from composers working in the full bloom of the Romantic era and much influenced by German lieder. Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse, born in 1774, was one of many musicians of German parentage who settled in Scandinavia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was a gifted pianist, organist and teacher, though it was his compositions that made a significant contribution to Danish music, his influence, rather than his output, being the important factor. The seven songs are in a similar mode to early Beethoven, but he was a conservative composer who never moved with the times. Peter Arnold Heise followed fifty-four years later and was of a very different ilk. A prolific writer of more than 200 songs, his early inspiration came from Schubert before eventually moving to Wagner, and it is the latter we hear in the very fine song cycle, Farlige Dromme (Perilous Dreams). Throughout a long life Peter Erasmus Lange-Muller was plagued by ill-health. From a wealthy background, he was able to devote much of his life to music and became a largely self-taught composer. Like Heise he had no wish to embrace changes in music style, and feeling that he no longer had a place  in Danish music wrote little after 1900. If his songs enjoyed success in his lifetime they soon vanished from the stage. Here we find the lighter weight of Schumann having shaped his thoughts. Heise needs a heldontenor and Lang-Muller looks for lyricism, the young Danish tenor, Mathias Hedegaard, coming somewhere between the two in his nicely focused voice, Tove Lonskov adding a perceptive piano accompaniment. The Dacapo label release includes words and translation into English and German.

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